3 ¶ A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
People who forget where they came from and turn and oppress people who, like they once were, suffer from poverty and want are like the hard rain that doesn’t refresh the land but exposes the roots and washes away the crops, ruining the harvest.
We have, in this country, politicians who came from poor backgrounds but through circumstance, talent, and the generosity of others were able to rise up out of poverty and yet, they take advantage of the poor from which they came. As H. Rap Brown, the militant from the 1960’s complained, poverty programs are buyoffs and aren’t designed to end poverty. These politicians use poor people as a guaranteed pool of votes by their throwing change at them. Other politicians, viewing themselves as part of an elite, who have earned their way out of poverty or have been helped, treat other poor people as inferior and oppress them because they didn’t or weren’t able to “grab the brass ring.”
We have, in this country, people who came from poor backgrounds but in the same manner were raised up to run a business or be a part of a large corporation that preys on the poor and takes advantage of their lack of knowledge and naievete’ or desperate need for work.
African-Americans, even radicals like H. Rap Brown, have complained of some of their own people being as much the oppressor as the “white establishment.”
This is a great Proverb to remind a poor person “on the rise” in ancient Israel not to forget where he came from and not to take advantage of his own people. But, what about the Christian? Part of the Christian’s calling is to take care of the poor in the church.
Romans 15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
The Christian is never to think too highly of himself, particularly in respect to his brothers and sisters in Christ.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
The Christian has no right or excuse to oppress his brothers or sisters in Christ or any person for any reason.
Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Even an Elder in the early church, in his spiritual authority, is not to oppress or “lord it over” his flock.
1Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
This goes both ways. Many Christians assume that if a brother or sister has risen from poverty to own a business or to have money that they can treat their debt obligations to them rather cavalierly. I have known people who were discouraged because the Christians that availed themselves of a brother or sister’s business services didn’t feel compelled to pay their bill promptly in the same way they would have if the business had been owned by a non-Christian. Oh well, he’ll understand.
Within the early church there was to be an equality; not like modern communism which allows for no God or Godly authority, nor like modern socialism, fascism, or capitalism that allows only for theft by taking or selfish indulgence, manipulation, and exploitation of others, but by a voluntary giving out of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not done at gunpoint for fear of losing life or property nor is it done by trickery or deception to relieve one of his hard earned cash unfairly so that another may benefit. Here was Paul’s advice to the early church, not a commandment, but an urging to live as you preached.
2 Corinthians 8:7 ¶ Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
So, as the poor in the world because we don’t value the world’s idea of wealth (if we’re faithful to God’s word), we are not to be oppressors of anyone, particularly not the poor in the church, but anyone anywhere. When Christian brothers and sisters, poor in the world, oppress Christian brothers and sisters or an unbeliever, it is indeed like a torrential rain that destroys and leaves nothing of use in its wake. May God have mercy on a church body with that going on in its midst.